Navigating Costa Rica, listening methods, and Google stumpers

November 27, 2023

Hello friend,

This week we trade our maps for a story that Jiveworld subscriber Nicole P. describes as "vital information for anyone planning a visit to Costa Rica." Then we talk active vs passive listening, have some fun with untranslatable phrases, and round up what we're reading from across the web.

Illustration of three people talking

Featured story
Perdido en San José

In Costa Rica you navigate neighborhoods by landmark, not street name. Luis Fernando investigates why. Soundbites from Perdido en San José explore the phonetics of Spanish vs English, how to address Costa Ricans, and a word that comes from a famous novel.

Jiveworld subscriber Kate K. found this story "...very rewarding." She said, "Our relation to physical space can be very helpful in understanding our relation to language as well."

Want to listen to the full story? Subscribe to unlock our entire catalog of Stories and Soundbites. 

Artwork by Carla Berrocal

Listen on Jiveworld

Language learning tip of the week
Active vs. Passive listening

When it comes to learning a new language, listening practice is a critical step in breaking through the intermediate plateau. There are two ways to engage your ear: active and passive listening.

Active listening: Focus all your attention on the audio material you’re practicing with, actively following the content (a story, conversation, debate, etc.) to reach at least partial comprehension.

  • Helps immerse you in the language (which is a key to fluency)
  • Best for when you’re feeling focused and energetic
  • Ideal for learning new vocabulary and testing comprehension ability

Passive listening: Play audio material (podcasts, radio, movies, TV shows) in the background, while doing another task, like cleaning, working, knitting, etc.

  • Helps you internalize the sounds and rhythm of the language
  • Best for when you’re feeling low-energy or don't have time for deep study
  • Ideal for reviewing what you already know

Both active and passive listening contribute to your fluency in different ways. It’s all about balance and choosing what's right for you that day.

ICYMI: Google can't translate this

We love a good Spanish (or English!) idiom. Understanding and successfully using them can go a long way towards building your confidence in conversations. Similar to idioms, the words in this video don't have direct translations to English. Machine translations may not help you, so add these to your vocab list: empalagar, cachivaches, and agasajar.

Preview image for an Instagram video featuring three phrases that can't be directly translated - click it to play the video

What we're reading

If you have questions about Jiveworld, a request for a tip, or an article to share, send us an email. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,

Team Jiveworld